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Blog Birding #395

At The Eyrie, Matt Smith introduces Fantasy Birding, the new game that enables birders to seek birds virtually around the world.

If you’re familiar with fantasy football or baseball, Fantasy Birding will be easy to understand. You make strategic choices in advance, then get points based on real-world results. In Fantasy Birding those results come from real checklists submitted to eBird. In this Big Year game, you choose each day’s birding location on the map a day in advance. Then, all birds reported to eBird on that day get added to your list.

At The Leica Nature Blog, Jennie Duberstein has some advice for young birders about making a career in birds.

I get asked a lot for recommendations for young birders interested in working with birds. Where should I go to school? What should I study? How do I prepare myself for a career in bird conservation? Most young birders are already on a great track. They involve themselves with local conservation or birding groups. They have volunteer experience leading trips or working on research projects. By and large I’m incredibly impressed by how involved young birders already are in bird conservation efforts.

Need more birding games for 2019? Portland Birder Eric Carlson has some tips on how to approach your 5-Mile Radius list.

So, you want to take the easy path, and just chase the best birds that have been seen in the 5 miles around your house?

You are lazy, and you should feel bad.
I know I do.

Anyway, here is how to find all of the birds that have been seen in the last 30 days in the five miles surrounding your house on eBird. Big thanks to Dick Vreeland for writing the API I am using in order to create this shopping list.

Snow and McKay’s Buntings are incredibly similar, and seem in many ways to be different color morphs of the same species. At Avian Hybrids, Jente Ottenburghs looks into a recent paper that seeks to make this case.

The description of McKay’s Bunting (Plectrophenax hyperboreus) on Wikipedia reads: “This species closely resembles Snow Bunting (P. nivalis) in all plumages, but is whiter overall.” The close resemblance of these passerine species makes you wonder if they are not different morphs of the same species. A recent study in the journal PeerJexplored the species status of these birds using genetic techniques.

It seems intuitive that road disturbance would be bad for nesting birds, but in some places, at least, it seems to be a benefit. The study explaining it is summarized at American Ornithology News. 

Rongrong Angkaew of King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi and her colleagues placed 100 next boxes for the cavity-nesting White-rumped Shama in forest interior and 100 near a road at an environmental research station in northeast Thailand. Monitoring nests and radio-tracking 25 fledglings from each site for seven weeks, they found that nest success was 12% higher and post-fledging survival 24% higher at the edge versus the interior—the opposite of the pattern commonly observed in temperate regions.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.